The Future of Teeth

“I certainly agree with those observers who believe that our current practices in accreditation are so abstract, so subjective, so procedural and so self-referential as to border on being substantively meaningless in assuring institutional quality or integrity,” Barmak Nassirian, associate executive director of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers, told a federal panel that advises Education Secretary Arne Duncan on accreditation issues. (“Accreditors Examine Their Flaws as Calls for Change Intensify“)


Academic reform can’t happen without the creation of a national union movement. That’s the first and necessary step in democratizing higher education. The democratization of the university also cannot happen, though, without  the democratization of accreditation. The university system and the accreditation industry are mirror images of the same sorts of corruption.

If universities–public or private–get government money– hopefully, in future, the current system of loans would change to direct grants– then they should conform to democratic norms, including systems of checks and balances to act as a counterweight to administrative power, as well as standards of equitable employment. Democracy ought to feed democracy.

The accreditation agencies, given real teeth in their power to control access to federal money, including research grants, should be similarly democratized, again, in the name of creating institutions that can counter administrative power as well as the power of capital as such. It’s our money, and it should be invested in our futures, not in lining the pockets of the administrator and already wealthy.

About Ray Watkins

I was born in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, at Our Lady of the Lake Hospital. I grew up in Houston, as a part of what we only half-jokingly call the Cajun Diaspora. At a certain point during the Regan administration, I had to leave, so I served in the Peace Corps, Philippines, from 1987-89. I didn't want to return to the United States just yet, so I moved to Paris, France, where I lived for three years or so. I then moved back to Austin, Texas, where I had received my Masters Degree, and (eventually) began a Ph.D., which I completed in 1999. I spent a year at Temple University and then accepted a position at Eastern Illinois University where I worked until May of 2006. I now work exclusively on line (although that may change) for Johns Hopkins, the Art Institute Online, and I can be reached most easily via email: raywatkins [that 'at' symbol]

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